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Archive for December, 2011

Lord,

Once we were many, but now we are few—

Those who call upon Your Name,

Knowing who You are, and who You are not.

Our leaders have turned their back to You,

As our President proudly announced that

We are no longer a Christian nation,

Which obviously gave him pleasure to do.

In my heart, I know it is true. We are not,

But this does not make me despair—not at all.

I know that those who mock You, delighting in their mischief,

Who wield power, as they sit in the seat of scoffers,

Legislating wrong and calling it right, as they

Greedily line their pockets will ill gotten gains.

Their demise is at hand. In their hearts,

They believe they are all powerful,

But they are not. For a while—for a short period—

They have basked in their glory, believing that

It would last for generations, but it will not.

Rise up, Lord, call Your sheep by name

That we may rid our land of these miscreants.

Be gracious to us, oh Lord, and do not

Chasten us any longer than necessary.

Spare us further calamity from those

Who mock Your name and laugh contemptuously

At those who love Your ways and want to

Restore our nation to what it once was.

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I remember this time in 1979, when the 1980 Presidential election was beginning to heat up. I was in a Ph.D. program at Emory University in political science, and we were being told that the United States was in irreversible decline—that our best years were behind us. In academia, this belief was nearly universally espoused.

Jimmy Carter was in The White House, gearing up for his reelection bid. In Iran, the diplomats and staff in our embassy were being held hostage, inflation was in double digits, gas lines were long, and interest rates were well over 20 percent. After the Watergate scandal, with the Vietnam War still a vivid memory, Americans were weary of Washington politicians, but Carter looked like he would win a second term because the Republicans couldn’t seem to get their act together.

Some supported Ronald Reagan, who was considered a rightwing extremist like Barry Goldwater. The traditional belief was that if nominated, his candidacy would ensure a Carter victory, which would mean four more years of poor leadership. Because I accepted this theory as accurate, I initially supported Howard Baker, the Tennessee Senator—a centrist Republican like Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He looked like a safe bet and someone who could actually defeat Carter, but Baker was unimaginative and as exciting as walls that are painted taupe.

As I listened to Ronald Reagan, however, who was depicted by the media as an old, less-than-intelligent cowboy with wild, grandiose ideas, his heartfelt passion for American exceptionalism captivated me. His love for America matched mine, and I started to believe his vision for a prosperous future, which was to lead the western democracies into the twenty-first century. At Emory, I was the only one in the political science department who felt this way, so I did battle routinely with my fellow graduate students and professors.

As it turned out, the rest of the country, except for the intelligencia, staunch Democrats, and those on the dole felt the same way, and Reagan won an impressive victory, which was accompanied by a landslide victory four years later. As it turned out, Reagan ushered in a quarter century of prosperity, while winning the Cold War.

As the New Year begins in 2012, the parallels with 1980 are astounding. The liberal media continues to champion the failed policies of President Obama, just like they did with Jimmy Carter, and the theme of America’s irreversible decline is once again the clarion message being heralded by the liberal media. Our debt is unsustainable, while President Obama believes he is at least the fourth best President Obama in our history. Plagued by unpopular wars and national ennui, our future looks bleak once again.

As I look at the field of Republican aspirants, it reminds me of this time thirty-two years ago. Romney resembles Howard Baker—a safe bet and a man who will say or do anything to win the White House. The candidate with vision and passion is clearly Newt Gingrich, but the scorched earth criticism of his past by his fellow contenders may derail him; that is, unless people rally to his cause—just like they came to Reagan’s defense. My advise to Newt is to stop whining, stay focused on his vision for America, which resonates with millions, and keep on apologizing for being an ass for all those years. Americans will forgive anything, except for arrogance and cover-ups. I like that about us.

Traditional wisdom says that Romney—the man with money and the Presidential looks—will win the nomination, but I hope that’s not true. I would definitely vote for him against Obama, but I would need a Viagra to muster the energy to do so. If Newt’s the nominee, I’ll work tirelessly for his election—just as I did for Reagan, when I wore a younger man’s clothes.

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In conservative circles, nobody is more revered than Ronald Reagan. He came to prominence in 1964 with his passionate support for Barry Goldwater, who was the Republican nominee to oppose President Johnson. LBJ, as most will remember, finished out the term for the assassinated President—John F. Kennedy.

Later, Reagan became Governor of CA, and ran for the Republican nominee for President in 1968, which was won by Richard Nixon. In 1976, Reagan tried again, opposing Jerald Ford, who eventually won the nomination, only to be defeated by Jimmy Carter who quickly ran the country into the ground.

Perceived as a rightwing extremist and seemingly finished as a national political leader, Reagan tried once again to win the nomination, opposing Jimmy Carter in 1980. By this time, Reagan was an old man, considered by many to be a has-been. Early in the nomination process, he made one gaffe after the other and looked like a doddering old fool. Nevertheless, he persevered, won the nomination, the White House, and became a man of destiny. He restored America to greatness, ended the Cold War, and ushered in the greatest era of American prosperity in our history. Few conservatives remember what was required for Reagan to achieve his place in history as one of our greatest Presidents.

The same can be said for Winston Churchill. Perhaps the man most responsible for ensuring the survival of western democracy, Churchill was a has-been in British politics, shortly before he came to power. An old man at the time, he was chosen to succeed Neville Chamberlain, whose appeasement policies were discredited by Hitler’s invasion of Poland in September 1939—the event that started World War II.

In the United States, the appointment of Churchill was not seen positively. Roosevelt said that Churchill was a drunk, but he was probably the best the British could produce. Clearly, little was expected of Churchill, but he proved all of his naysayers wrong, quickly winning the confidence of Roosevelt—thanks to Harry Hopkins—and become one of the greatest leaders of all time.

That brings me to Newt Gingrich—another old man, clearly past his prime in the eyes of many. A man with many flaws—just like Reagan and Churchill—Newt may be the man of destiny America needs at this crucial time in our history. Flawed but repentant, Newt is clearly the most capable candidate the Republicans have to offer, and Obama’s Harvard pedigree is no match for the intellect of the West Georgia College professor, which will become evident when they square off against each other.

Yet the question remains, will Newt “man up” to the task ahead? Only time will tell, but he seems certain to achieve the opportunity. Personally, I like the idea of having a leader who has stabilized after being discredited and dismissed as a failure. Having had that experience myself, I know I’m a much better man for it, and I suspect Newt is as well. So far, he’s only half-a-man of destiny, but I’m definitely pulling for him. Maybe, I’ll get a bumper sticker that reads—Curmudgeons Rule!

—Jack Watts

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In his spare time, Aristotle—the greatest political mind of all time—wrote about drama and the theatre. His book, Aristotle’s Poetics, has survived as a classic for nearly twenty-five hundred years. For Aristotle, a play’s protagonist was always virtuous, except for one “tragic flaw” that proved to be his undoing. In Aristotelian drama, despite all of the hero’s virtues, the tragic flaw inevitably led to his destruction and death.

I was thinking about this the other day and wondered if the life of a nation could be equated to an Aristotelian hero. Could America’s undoing come from having a national tragic flaw? I believe the answer is yes.

Our tragic flaw is the naïveté produced by our obsession with political correctness. Wanting the rest of the world to be as tolerant and accepting as we are, we blindly close our eyes to the harsh realities of international politics. We want to believe others have the same sense of goodwill that is the bedrock of our society. Our politically correct worldview demands this be true, but it isn’t.

The example of Nidal Malik Hasan illustrates this well. When confronted with a harsh reality like the Fort Hood massacre, which repudiates the way we perceive reality, we are unable to admit to truth, choosing instead to call his actions an act of terrorism. We categorize it as “workplace violence,” which conforms to our politically correct belief system.

Despite possessing the world’s largest economy, as well as a massive nuclear arsenal, we are vulnerable because of our Americanized Aristotelian flaw. We are unable to see the world as it really is. We simply cannot call a spade a spade. Instead, we revise history to conform to our beliefs about the nature of mankind.

In the 1930s, the western democracies had the same problem with Adolph Hitler. Choosing appeasement rather than confrontation, neither France nor Great Britain was willing to make a stand when it would have been easy to keep the NAZI leader in check. Obviously, this miscalculation had catastrophic consequences.

Reinhold Niebuhr wrote about that generation’s tragic flaw in The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness. His work, which was seminal, remains germane to our generation. Not having learned our lesson from history, I fear that we will be forced to repeat it. That’s the nature of an Aristotelian flaw.

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When it comes to taking Christ out of Christmas, believers are used to failing. We’ve become as used to it as the Chicago Cubs have been of never winning a World Series, while the militant, politically correct folks are like the Yankees. They seem to win nearly all of the time.

In an effort to not offend anyone, we have consistently stripped Christmas of its meaning. Now, we are left with little more than Holiday Trees, Season’s Greetings, and Bacchanalia at office parties. For the most part, we don’t even put up a good fight about our beliefs. Those who do are made to look foolish by the politically correct who depict them as extremists. As such, these unfortunate people are ridiculed publicly.

When I step back and take a look at what has happened in my lifetime, it seems to me that the “high wall of separation” insisted upon by Thomas Jefferson in his letter to the Danbury Baptist Church has been used to make the United States as faithless a society as the one fought for in the French Revolution. That’s right—the French Revolution—not the American Revolution. What has happened is we have mixed up the revolutions.

In the French Revolution, Catholic priests, along with others of faith, were executed—all in an attempt to purge religion from the French soul. That was the French experience, but it was not the experience of the American Revolution nor the 150 years that followed. Our Revolution was for freedom of religion—not freedom from religion. The difference is just a preposition, but its impact upon our society has been incalculable.

Being anti-religious is a relatively recent phenomenon in American history. Since the early 1960s, there has been a massive assault on the core values and symbols of America’s past, which has changed the preposition. This has left us with a society where several hundred million have no idea what they believe or why, which renders them easy prey for whatever comes along to provide some semblance of meaning for Christmas.

The obtuse masses, however, are not the only problem. Those who embrace their Judeo-Christian heritage have become so used to losing battles, they do nothing more significant than send endless emails bemoaning the state of the country. With the familiar plaint, “Wait till next year,” in their hearts, they know that next year they will lose another round to the Yankees.

—Jack Watts

ACTION STEP: If you agree with what has been written, what are your ideas about what can be done to defeat the dreaded Yankees?

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I like Herman Cain. I like his forthrightness, his energy, and his ideas. They are all great. And I love his sense of humor. We haven’t had anybody with his sense of timing since Ronald Reagan. I have laughed out loud numerous times at some of Cain’s statements, which has added positively to the long, arduous process of picking Obama’s replacement.

I also like the idea of supporting a conservative black candidate. Sorry, but that’s exactly the way I feel, and there are a lot of people who feel the same way.  Like most conservatives, when someone I like is criticized, I stand behind them.

When the first woman came forward accusing Cain of sexual misconduct, I didn’t believe a word she said. With Gloria Allred right by his accuser’s side, the entire episode looked like a sleazy left-wing conspiracy to defame a good man.  He didn’t lose me there—not one bit. If anything, my support strengthened.

Following that, when the two cases of sexual harassment surfaced, I was stunned and shaken. When I learned that the women had received settlements, I stopped my support for Cain. There were two reasons why I did.

First, if there were no measure of guilt, why would Cain settle? If he was completely innocent, paying off these women was the wrong thing to do. By making a payment, he sealed his own fate, which would eventually derail his presidential candidacy more than a decade later. It was as good as making a nolo contendere plea in court, which is the same thing as being guilty—just not admitting it, which is exactly what Cain did.

The latest bombshell, coming from Ginger White, has made his continuation in the process untenable. It’s not just that he had an affair. Many Presidents have done that, and some of them have been good leaders. It’s that Cain lied about it, which is the second reason I’ve stopped supporting him. He has a character problem, and character counts in presidential politics, especially for conservatives. How can you follow someone you can no longer trust?

To me, it looks like Cain has deceived us all along, and that’s the kiss of death for a presidential candidate. He has a pattern of behavior in his personal life that is unacceptable, and he has lied about it all along, making his supporters look foolish and naive. No other explanation makes sense.

This means he has to drop out of the race, and if he has any sense, he will do it quickly. I’m sorry Herman, but it’s time to go.

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